Two weeks have passed since the NBA’s free agency period opened up, and it’s safe to say that the Lakers aren’t done retooling their roster. Los Angeles welcomed five new role players to its roster (excluding the rookies) and said goodbye to six players from last year’s team. And while the Lakers shaped their roster this time with more young legs, defensive-minded and athletic players, the front office is well aware that they still lack arguably the most important type of players in modern basketball — shooters.
After all, as it currently stands, the Lakers have one more roster spot available, which they’re probably making room for a potential trade or a free agent. And speaking of trades, according to NBA insider Marc Stein’s Substack story from earlier this week, the Lakers continue to be linked to a couple of familiar shooting guards.
After the Lakers’ good work in the bargain department to add the likes of Thomas Bryant, Lonnie Walker IV and Juan Toscano-Anderson, they are still “definitely” looking for ways to add shooting, according to one source with knowledge of the team’s thinking. That is why they continue to be linked to Hield (now an Indiana Pacer) and Houston’s Eric Gordon ... as well as the fact both Hield and Gordon are former Pelinka clients from his days as a player agent.
Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN echoed those two names during a Friday TV appearance, adding to the growing tally of times those two players specifically have been connected to Los Angeles this offseason alone:
Adrian Wojnarowski on what the Lakers do before the start of the season video courtesy of the @dpshow: pic.twitter.com/h7BhCA0k3L— The Lakers Review (@TheLakersReview) July 15, 2022
If you’ve paid attention to the Lakers’ free agency moves this summer, there’s an obvious reason why they haven’t made significant moves since the first few days of free agency. Los Angeles continues to be in pursuit of Brooklyn Nets’ All-Star Kyrie Irving who miraculously fell on their radar this offseason.
But even while the Lakers and Nets are still reportedly in the negotiation stage for a potential Russell Westbrook and Irving swap, the front office continues to remind everyone that they’re not done retooling the roster — with or without Irving potentially in the mix.
In a one-on-one interview with NBA.com’s Mark Medina, Jeanie Buss echoed this exact same sentiment.
I know you can’t discuss specifically, but philosophically do you expect at some point before the season starts that more deals get done?
We have to fill out a roster. So I think that Rob knows that every opportunity we can get to improve our team, he has to look at it. Those are the kind of moves that we’re going to make because we want to be back in the playoffs and contending for a title.
Do you expect a major move to happen?
Nothing would surprise me. We’re not making change for the sake of change. It has to be good, basketball decisions that help us now and doesn’t compromise our ability to deal in the future.
So if you read between the lines here, the Lakers are clearly not satisfied with their current roster, especially if their goal is to make sure they don’t miss the playoffs and waste another season with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. With this goal in mind, Buss and Co. also remain bullish about making sure their decisions in the next few weeks don’t damage the organization’s future (like ahem, giving up their so-called precious draft picks).
Obviously, the most vital assets the Lakers have right now are their 2027 and 2029 first-round draft picks, which every single team will probably demand from them in trade negotiations this summer. Whether or not the Lakers want to let go of their picks remains to be seen, but one’s things for sure: Pelinka will remain busy on his phone for the next few weeks.
“We still have work to do. We’re not done,” Buss told NBA.com in the same interview. “Until training camp starts, we’re not going to rest until we’re satisfied that we have the best chance for success.”
“We’re not done. We still have more work to do,” Pelinka said on ESPN last week.
We’ll see what shape that work takes soon enough.
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